The second amendment was written in language which made sense 250 years ago. Unfortunately, as we have dumbed down our education over the years, nobody seems to remember the rules about adjectival clauses any more. So the Supreme Court is going to rely on the five members who went to Catholic schools to sort out the grammar.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Back in the day, owning a rifle was a useful part of our daily lives, insofar as it helped to provide food and a livelihood from the slaughter of animals for their meat and valuable fur, Owning a rifle also provided protection from marauding Native Americans who didn't get the memo about the white man's right to their land. Not to mention all the times we've had to deal with their resentment over the neverending attempts to exterminate their civilization.
Of course, despite our success as rifle toting invaders, we also had to deal with the British, who weren't going to roll over and give away a country they wanted to rape for themselves. Not without a fight.
That's where American ingenuity first came in handy. We didn't have enough bodies to field a standing army like England, France, Russia, Germany and the like. Being a soldier in their part of the world could be a full-time occupation. But over here in the less populated colonies, being a soldier was done on an as needed basis. We'll call you when you need you. And don't forget your rifle. The local militia was like Rotary. You belonged to it like a club.
When the Brits had a hissy fit over our American rebelliousness, they sent an army to come over and squash us. So we simply called a club meeting to protect ourselves. That idea worked so well, someone made a note to include it in the constitution when we got around to putting one together. Meanwhile, outguinned, outmanned and outnumbered, we also invented guerilla warfare along the way -- making the best use of personal firearms and our knowledge of the terrain against a professional fighting force.
Who knew it would backfire.
Fighting the British is probably when the character of a typical American emerged. During the Revolutionary War, there was a Prussian officer assigned to train Americans in traditional warfare -- the kind where straight lines of soldiers carry their rifles on their shoulders and march together in lockstep to the battlefield.
The frontiersmen he was dealing with were already crack shots. They were used to stalking and killing food and indigenous people by hiding behind trees or lying in ditches. Anything else didn't make much sense to them. Marching in the middle of the road like sitting ducks seemed counterintuitive. And there was that whole "Who is this guy and why is HE telling us what to do?" thing, which continues to this day.
The Prussian officer, like most military types, was used to having his commands obeyed without question and he soon ran into attitude problems with the Americans.
Every time Herr Deutchenofficer gave a command, the Americans always wanted to know why? first. Each of them was already his own army of one. Why take orders from someone else? But they managed to work something out.
Unfortunately, old habits die hard. And the diehards started their own group -- the NRA. I'd like to see that group gathering together to fend off a British attack during the Revolutionary War. Bunch of overweight white guys in camo pants and wifebeaters, dragging coolers full of beer. Led by Charlton Heston.
No longer do we have to go out every day to kill the Big Macs we eat to feed our families. Or protect our lawns from anything but crabgrass.
No longer do our dads have to be a part of a local militia and be ready to bring their rifles to fight invading countries. These days invading armies just swim or walk across at the border.
So we really don't need firearms to live our daily lives.
Any day of the week you can buy enough food at Costco to feed an army of kids. The local militia mentioned in the constitution reflected the times, but it is now a rellic of the times, like slavery.
In fact, you could argue that the militia have evolved into our local police force. They're the only ones who should have access to firearms. Except for sport. And there are enough dead family members for those weapons not to be kept in the home.
Someone I know discovered she'd married a man who had a .357 magnum for personal protection. He was a firm believer in the right of every citizen to bear arms. She thought keeping a gun was a form of paranoia.
One night they bothheard a noise downstairs in their home. He looked at her and said, "Would you please go check and see what that was?"
The next day she made him dismantle the gun and put it in the attic.
There's no moral to the story. Only food for thought.